Lunch… and Glycerol Dialkyl Glycerol Tetraethers

The last plenary talk of the conference was given by Professor Ann Pearson of Harvard University and provided a detailed overview of recent advances in the understanding of the TEX86 proxy. I’m entirely new to this proxy, having only heard it mentioned very briefly in the past so I found the talk particularly informative. (If you weren’t wondering what the title of this blog post meant then you’re certainly more informed than I was!) The complex biochemical mechanisms which have enabled the use of TEX86­ in the indirect determination of past sea-surface temperature has been a focus of continued research for Ann, and recent experimental evidence has yielded some surprising results. It turns out that TEX86 may be primarily nutrient rather than temperature dependent. Good news for investigations of palaeonutrient and palaeoproductivity, watch this space! I was lucky enough to have the opportunity of briefly talking with Ann after her seminar…


A summer internship in college first opened her eyes to the potential scope of chemical oceanography and environmental chemistry and ignited a passion which she would follow in extensive and exciting work with her former supervisor Tim Eglinton and many others. Ann suggested that the main challenge for contemporary science is the need for a vehicle enhancing collaboration between scientists and that this may be enabled through sources of funding which particularly enable usage flexibility. Ann stressed the crucial importance of broadening networks throughout the scientific community; for which conferences such as Goldschmidt are the perfect medium. The amount of time spent in a lab assiduously dissecting the processes of such a complex system as the TEX86 proxy is unavoidable, however outside the lab Ann has a keen fondness for farming and gardening. Being in nature, particularly in the mountains, is a savoured rarity.


As a mere first year PhD student and a neophyte to huge geochemistry conferences I can’t help but feel that this has been quite the learning curve for me. As the coffee machines are switched off and the conference center is relinquished for one last dash to the bierkeller, there’s just enough time for an overarching whim. Progressive contributions from each and every sphere of research, with all their inherent nuances and complexities is key to a holistic, scientific appreciation of Earth system processes. It’s clear that continued and enhanced interdisciplinary collaboration is an essential ingredient for this progression. Basically; Goldschmidt has been brilliant.